Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stewed Napa Cabbage

In this post, I mentioned some stewed cabbage. While it may sound unappealing and also looks a mess, it tastes great. It's extremely flavorful so 1/2 cup is sufficient to flavor a bowl of rice. I've seen various recipes for this dish scattered throughout various cookbooks but this is how I make it.

This is napa cabbage. The thing you have to watch out for when cooking napa cabbage is that it is full of water so it can drown the rest of the dish. However, if you plan for this, you'll be fine. I used a 2 lb specimen. Peel off the dirty, spotted outer layer of cabbage. Cut off the root end. Quarter the remaining cabbage and then slice across into 1 inch wide strips.

Set the cabbage aside.
Soak a handful of dried shiitake mushrooms and a pinch of dried shrimp.
Dice one Chinese sausage:
Mince a walnut sized nugget of peeled ginger:
Mince 3 cloves of garlic:
New ingredient time! Here's a can of Szechuan preserved vegetables. And this is what they look like:
This is about half the can. You have to rinse them of the flavoring residue. I just soak them in cold water for 5 minutes, drain and squeeze out the excess water.

By now, the mushrooms should be rehydrated. Squeeze to remove excess water and cut into strips.Take $0.25 worth of ground pork and sprinkle with Chinese rice wine and a bit of soy sauce. Add cornstarch, about a teaspoon and blend until the pork mixture is sticky.
This is, obviously, before I mixed in the cornstarch.

I've got all the ingredients laid out. They are arranged from top to bottom such that the items at the top are first into the wok.
From top to bottom- Garlic/ginger, pork, drained dried shrimp, minced Chinese sausage, preserved vegetables, sliced mushrooms and green onion. I haven't yet sliced the green onion tops but will do so when the rest of the ingredients are cooking.

Heat up a wok, add some oil and toss in the ginger and garlic. You want it to become fragrant and aromatic. Toss in the pork and allow it to brown a bit. Toss in the dried shrimp and Chinese sausage. Stir fry for a minute. Toss in the preserved vegetables, sliced mushrooms and stir fry for another minute. Turn off the heat and toss in one sliced green onion top. This is what you should end up with:
Taste and add salt. It should be aggressively seasoned because this is what is going to flavor the rest of the dish. Allow to cool for a bit.

Time to assemble the rest of the dish. Take your large pot and throw in a layer of cabbage, enough to cover the bottom.
Take some of the mixture in the wok and sprinkle it over the cabbage:
Add another layer of cabbage, more of the mixture in the wok and build it up until it's all gone. I had three layers of cabbage and three layers of wok-mixture.
Time to add some liquid. I used about four cups worth, I'd use less next time, maybe 3 cups. You can use chicken stock but since I'm on a very limited budget, I used water, a teaspoon of dashi-no-moto and a splash of soy sauce.

Bring to a boil, drop the heat to a bare simmer and pop a lid on the pot. Cook for 20 minutes and this is what you'll end up with:

Good stuff. The entire pot cost about $3.25 or $0.40 per 1 cup serving.
Probably took abut an hour?

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